We all desire faith, but most of us do not even understand what faith is.
Faith is not the absence of fear, anxiety, anger, pain or doubt. Faith is the ability to see God in the midst of each of these. Faith is not believing certain information about God, faith creates a trusting response towards God.
Fear, anxiety, anger pain and doubt each trigger a response in our head and our heart. Often we feel one of these and assume we are in emotional quicksand, heading further away from God. Recognizing each one however can be the first step on a ladder of faith.
Sometimes, when we are afraid, we are tempted to think we don’t believe. Fear is not the opposite of faith, very often it is the pre-requisite for it. Fear does not denounce faith, very often it rightly recognizes the impossibility of what we are called to do. Not one wants to die, but Jesus calls each of us to a spiritual death, and we are right to be afraid.
Sometimes, when we feel anxious, we question whether God is present, or if we should do things on our own. Anxiety is not the opposite of faith, it is a perfect platform for it. Anxiety believes too much in our ability, and too little on God’s. When we are anxious we can see that God asks us to step into his promises of provision for today instead of taking on the worries of tomorrow.
Perhaps you struggle getting angry, and wonder if you have denied God. Anger is a defensive, protective response. While our anger can be misused, it is not an indicator of lack of faith, simply an indicator that we need faith to steward anger appropriately. The Bible does not say to not be angry, simply to not sin in our anger. Are you angry about topics that God is angry about (such as injustice or abuse) or is you anger self-centered? The fruit of your anger is a great indicator.
Often when we are hurting, or see others in pain, we are tempted to question our faith. The immediacy of pain wants an immediate answer, but faith does not traffic in the immediate. Pain does not disqualify us from faith, not even Jesus avoided pain. Pain reminds us of how temporal this world is, and while we want pain alleviated immediately, we must learn to trust that God will remove pain in his way, and his time. Pain should never be a reason to doubt God’s love or timing, but it should always remind us of our great need for God and his presence.
Many see doubt as the antithesis of faith, but it impossible to believe without first doubting. Doubt is the platform on which faith is built, and when we see doubt more like the first step of faith, then we can begin to believe. When Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt” it exposed a lack of trust. What if, instead of trying to please God by looking like we never doubted, we could instead be honest about our doubts and ask God to replace them with faith?
In each of these situations, your brain will be filled with signals telling you that you need to do something; you need to fight or flee. Your body and brain was wired to protect yourself. In each of these circumstances, you have a choice to make; will you give power to your feeling, or power to your God?
Do you believe that God has power over fear, anxiety, anger, pain and doubt? Of course you do. So how, in the midst of a emotion-filled brain do you chose God’s perspective of faith instead of your own perspective of failure?
You choose to trust.
Trust is not a natural response. Trust often feels like walking on a raised platform, into the fog. You cannot see, you feel off-balance, you are unsure what lies ahead. Because of who God is, and what he has called you to, you keep walking step-by-step. Each step wavers, and may get harder, but when you arrive at your destination learning to trust was worth every risk.
Trust may feel forced at first, only to lead to freedom. You are to trust that God has allowed the situation, will meet you in it, and see you through it. You are to trust that moment by moment, regardless of how you feel, that God is with you. Name the feeling, and chose the response:
“God, I am afraid of loved ones dying, but I chose to trust in your protection. I chose to walk toward you.”
“God, I am anxious about the bills will not get paid this month, but I am going to trust that you will provide. Will help me see you in the midst of this?”
“God, I am angry with my boss, and feel I am being mistreated, but I will trust in your presence. Help me chose your ways to forgive, and help me to stand up for what is right.”
“God, I am in pain and not sure you will heal me, but I will trust in your timing.”
Very often we are afraid of real life feelings. We think these feelings prove that we do not believe. These feelings simply prove we are human, and that we are given more and more opportunities to believe through real life situations.
Trust is the ingredient of faith that says no matter the circumstance, no matter the feeling, no matter our own failure, I will chose to believe that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do.
We can spend our life trying to please God by not having feelings of doubt, anxiety, anger, fear or pain and or we can trust God in the midst of each of those. Choosing trust is our first step in relationship with God. “I can’t see you, but I trust you are here.”
God is real. You have real feelings. Learn to trust him in the midst of every emotion, and you will quickly climb up the ladder of faith. You were designed to believe. You were designed to trust God. God is forever trustworthy.
(This post first appeared on the CTK Blog.)